About 20 fathers and granddads accompanied their young students to a Springfield Gardens elementary school last week, heeding the call for dads to take an active interest in their children’s early development.
Alicia Hyndman, president of the Community Education Council for District 29, said 28 of the district’s 33 elementary and middle schools participated in the sixth annual Dads Take Your Child to School initiative.
“There doesn’t have to be a problem or an issue for you to come in,” Hyndman told the fathers — and a few grandfathers — early in the morning after they dropped their youngsters off and discussed a few of the resources available to their students, such as the after-school program provided by the Jamaica YMCA.
The men who showed up for the early morning meeting needed little convincing of the important role they played in their children’s lives, and Hyndman urged them to be an example not only for their youngsters, but for other fathers as well.
Far Rockaway resident Kip Edwards said that when he noticed his 13-year-old daughter was dealing with some negative behavior problems, he did not think twice about rearranging his schedule at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he works nights as a maintenance supervisor, so that he could be around more to support her.
“It wasn’t hard. A mother can only say so much. But when a father comes around, it’s a totally different story,” the 35-year-old dad said.
“I remember when I was a kid and my mom would say, ‘Wait until to your dad comes home.’ That was the last thing I wanted to hear,” he said.
The event was co-sponsored by the United Black Men of Queens Foundation, whose executive director, Rodney Pride, emphasized the unique role fathers have during their children’s formative years.
“Fathers are essential to a child’s development and well-being, and they need to be involved in their children’s education,” he said. “When fathers take an active interest, children do better in school, have fewer behavioral problems and are more likely to graduate.”
James Mason, 39, had come from Brooklyn to bring his sixth-grade son to school. Mason said he was in a custody battle with his son’s mother and admitted that while it was tough only being able to see his boy two times a week, he tried to make their time together count.
“Every time I come in contact with him I try to tell him the right things to do,” he said.
City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, speaking at a town hall meeting in District 29 later in the day, said fathers should apply the lessons of Dads Take Your Child to School Day everyday.
“For the dads who came out today, I want to say thank you very much. This shouldn’t be a one-time thing,” he said. “This should be an ongoing thing where we, the men, step up to the plate and come out on a regular basis to support our children.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@
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